Georgia Tech to Found Center for 21st Century Universities

For More Information Contact

MIchael Terrazas

Interim Director of Communications


ATLANTA – Dec. 17, 2010 – In a higher education climate witnessing online enrollments grow at as much as 10 times the rate of traditional campus enrollments, the Georgia Institute of Technology has announced the creation of the Center for 21st Century Universities, to be directed by former Georgia Tech College of Computing Dean Rich DeMillo.

The center, which will be based in the College of Computing but will include faculty from Management, Public Policy and Industrial Systems & Engineering, will focus on the role of disruptive technologies like social networking and innovations like open courseware, serving as a living laboratory  for testing new educational ideas.

“While technology is not the only enabler of change in higher education, it is on the critical path to all foreseeable change,” said DeMillo, who served as College of Computing dean from 2002-2008 and now is a Distinguished Professor in the colleges of Computing and Management. “Georgia Tech is among the largest and most influential engineering and technological universities in the world, and we have the opportunity to be leaders in examining how disruptive technology will revolutionize undergraduate education. The goal is to use the output of this living laboratory to drive innovative, diverse—perhaps competing—visions of higher education in the 21st century.”

While serving as dean, DeMillo oversaw the overhaul in the College of Computing’s undergraduate computer science curriculum, moving to a contextual, specialized approach called Threads that has been hailed as a groundbreaking development in higher education. The new center, dubbed “C21U,” will not only explore technological opportunities for innovation, it will examine some of academia’s long-held assumptions about knowledge and skill delivery. Reimagining those models, DeMillo said, could mean the difference between institutional success and failure in an educational environment that yields market share each year to nontraditional and international competitors.

“We’ve got to figure out how to scale a Georgia Tech education to a much larger population of students while retaining every bit of the intellectual rigor that makes that experience what it is,” said Steve Cross, Executive Vice President for Research. “The last decade has shown us that different models of education delivery can not only work but succeed. Given our nature and history as a technological university that responds extremely well to the shifting demands of industry, it’s appropriate that Georgia Tech help lead the way toward a thriving system of higher education in the 21st century.”

DeMillo added that the center hopes to develop a spirit of experimentation among its faculty affiliates, challenging them to innovate in curricular design while working with national and international groups also engaged with higher education reform. First on the center’s agenda is developing a seed grant program that will identify and provide funds for promising early proposals.

“Rich DeMillo is the perfect choice to lead this center because he has a passion for education and he understands that in today’s environment—both in technology and in education—you have to innovate or you will get left far behind,” said Zvi Galil, John P. Imlay Jr. Dean of Computing. “Georgia Tech has some of the best researchers and innovators in the world. This center will focus some of that creative energy on finding the most effective ways to leverage new technological tools to provide the best possible education to the greatest number of students.”


About the Georgia Tech College of Computing
The Georgia Tech College of Computing is a national leader in the creation of real-world computing breakthroughs that drive social and scientific progress. With its graduate program ranked 10th nationally by U.S. News and World Report, the College’s unconventional approach to education is defining the new face of computing by expanding the horizons of traditional computer science students through interdisciplinary collaboration and a focus on human centered solutions. For more information about the Georgia Tech College of Computing, its academic divisions and research centers, please visit

Michael Terrazas
Interim Director of Communications
College of Computing at Georgia Tech